Poster: "Penitents, Eremites and Saints with Skulls"


The images in this poster, are part of the collection with the same name: Penitents, Eremites and Saints with Skulls. In these images, the penitents, eremites and saints, both male and female, are depicted next to human remains, most often skulls. The remains do not present any visible sex or gender traits and therefore, the remains could be interpreted as either being the same gender as the living saint person, or a different gender. This indefinition seems to intentionally imply the loss of gender and sex after death and the use of this future self as present surrogated indentity during penance.

In some of these images, the saints appear touching the skull (Self-portrait with skull, by Rosa (1647, c.)). Other images present them by their side, such as St. Jerome, by de Ribera (1651), or underneath a book, such as Repentant Mary Magdalen, by Titian (1560, c.). Some of these images, including some of those representing Mary Magdalen, include a mirror which can be an indicator of the tradition of women looking at their skull on their mirror, such as The Repentant Magdalen, by de La Tour (1635, c.) and The Penitent Magdalen, by de La Tour (1640, c.).



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